5 ways to keep feet happy on the trail

Sure, your legs, back and arms might be feeling the burn as you navigate the Pacific Crest trail, but at the end of a long day of logging miles, the real heroes are your feet. Without them, you wouldn’t make it very far. If you have daily mileage goals or distance goals of any kind, taking care of your feet on the trail is of the utmost importance. Keep these five easy tips in mind as you hit the trail to ensure happy feet and more miles.

Take off your shoes

One of the best—and easiest—ways to take care of your feet while backpacking is just to take off your shoes. Take them off during any extended break to rid them of rocks, allow feet to dry, prevent blisters and give your feet a much-needed break.


Tight calves and Achilles tendons can lead to painful foot problems. The tighter these muscles and tendons are, the harder your foot is hitting the trail with each step you take. Do your feet a favor and spend a few minutes stretching your calves on long mileage days.

Tighten your laces

If you tend to get blisters on your heel or back of your foot, a likely cause is loose shoes. One simple fix is to tighten your laces. The lock-lacing technique outlined in this video can help prevent heel slippage and subsequent blisters. Other lacing techniques highlighted in the video can reduce pressure on different parts of your feet and make your long hiking days more comfortable.

Keep your feet warm

Once your feet get cold, it can be really difficult getting them warm and comfortable again. When you’re backpacking, your feet are most likely to get cold after they’ve gotten wet. This is another reason why you should take your shoes off when you’re able to take a break. Let your feet air dry for a bit, and then put on dry socks. If you need the protection of your wet shoes while doing basic camp chores, you can keep your feet dry by placing them in a plastic bag and then into your boot. But be sure to let your hiking shoes completely dry before putting in more miles on the trail; wearing plastic bags while hiking isn’t fun (or good for your feet).

Clip your toenails

Of course you clip your toenails! But clipping them more often than you’re used to can help prevent unnecessary pressure points and lost toenails. When you clip your toenails, make sure you clip them so they’re square, not round, to help prevent ingrown toenails. You should also be careful not to clip them too short, as this is another ingrown toenail risk factor.

If you follow these five tips during your time on the PCT, you should be able to enjoy the benefits of healthy, happy feet; which means more mileage and more trail!


This content was provided by our partners at Sierra Trading Post.